This week NHPR is taking a close look at higher education in the state with our special series A Matter of Degrees. But funding higher ed is a perennial issue that we've been tracking for almost as long as we've been broadcasting.
In 1989, the state was facing an $80 million budget shortfall. Then Governor Judd Gregg requested new budgets from his agency heads reflecting a proposed 10-percent budget cut. NHPR's Kathy McLaughlin spoke with UNH Chancellor Claire Van Ummerson about what actions the University would need to take to meet such a cut.
Over the years we continued our coverage of higher education, but around the turn of the century the conversation changed slightly. The increasing cost of tuition and related expenses were prompting many to rethink their decisions, from what school to attend to what job they pursue after graduation. The Exchange asked why paying for a degree had become so tough in the first place.
The conversation continued to evolve, the high cost of tuition and predictions for current and future labor markets led some to question whether a college degree had become an overvalued commodity. The Exchange tackled this issue, too.
Word of Mouth added to the discussion when it began broadcasting in 2008. Universities had started implementing programs that looked for indicators that predict whether students are at-risk of dropping out. Everything from SAT scores to financial-aid status, and even dining hall attendance was fair game in efforts to increase retention, and reach out to faltering students before they themselves know they're in trouble.
Host Virginia Prescott also spoke with a young man who found a way around the high cost of advanced degrees. Zac Bissonnette was a senior (in 2010) at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. And was earning his college degree without student loans. He’s author of the book Debt-Free U: How I Paid for an Outstanding College Education Without Loans, Scholarships, or Mooching off My Parents.